Catholic Church Official: Terri Schiavo Shouldn’t be Starved to Death

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 11, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Official: Terri Schiavo Shouldn’t be Starved to Death

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 11, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A leading Catholic bishop who speaks on pro-life issues for the nation’s Catholic leaders joined forces with Catholic leaders in Florida urging that Terri Schiavo not be starved to death next week.

Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement Thursday calling for food and water to continue to be provided to Terri.

Cardinal Keeler says he prays "that those who hold power over Terri Schindler Schiavo’s fate will see that she ‘continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care.’"

He referred to comments from the Pope at a 2004 conference in Rome, where the pontiff said disabled patients like Terri and even those in a PVS state are entitled to "the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.)."

The Pope previously said it was "morally obligatory" to provide food and water and called the withdrawal of it "euthanasia by omission."

"Deliberately to remove them in order to hasten a patient’s death, however, would be a form of euthanasia, which is gravely wrong," Keeler said.

He indicated he sided with bishops in Florida who issued their own statement on February 28.

"The [Florida] bishops reiterated their plea that Terri Schindler Schiavo ‘continue to receive all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her,’" Keeler said.

Last month, a leading Vatican official said starving Terri to death would be a mistake that would advance euthanasia in the United States.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made the statement on Vatican radio.

"If Mr. Schiavo succeeds legally in causing the death of his wife, this not only would be tragic in itself, but would be a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States," Martino said.

A local judge has ruled that Terri’s estranged husband Michael has the authority to starve her to death on March 18. Removing her feeding tube will begin a painful week-long starvation and dehydration process.